Jefferson Mays is taking on the role of George Hodel, a prime suspect in the Black Dahlia murder case, in ‘I Am The Night.’ He spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HL about the unsolved crime, his ‘mysterious’ character, and more!
The Black Dahlia murder is one of those fascinating and horrific cases that will be talked about forever. The shocking murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947 is still unsolved after over 70 years. TNT’s new limited series, I Am The Night, takes a new angle on the infamous crime. Jefferson Mays, 53, plays George Hodel in the series. George was a suspect in the case, and his own son even believes he committed the horrific murder. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Jefferson about I Am The Night and exploring the Black Dahlia murder yet again.
“It is astonishing to me that it has been unsolved for 70 years for a reason. It is astonishing to me how often it has been reinvestigated cinematically and otherwise,” Jefferson told HollywoodLife at the show’s premiere event in Los Angeles. “The Black Dahlia looms hauntingly in the background of a larger story in I Am The Night of this young women’s journey to find herself and her true identity, which is kind of epic in its scope. India Eisley, who plays Fauna Hodel, she has a hero’s journey, and I am her dark underworld that she must and needs to descend to, so it had that mythic epic quality for me. It is shot with so much imagery of bull masks, and the bull figured prominently in the surreal art that so compelled George Hodel. Picasso is obviously full of bull imagery with Theseus and the minotaur. But it had this heightened feel to it. It was thrilling to do.”
The series is inspired by true events and follows Fauna Hodel, a teenage girl who is given away at birth. One day, she makes a discovery that leads her to Los Angeles and she begins to investigate her past. She meets reporter named Jay (Chris Pine), who is haunted by a past case. Together, they follow a trail to George Hodel, and the connection between the Hodels and the Black Dahlia murder begins to blur.
Jefferson revealed he would only get one script at a time, so this heightened the mystery about the complex series. “I did not know how events would hold and how things would unfold and how relationships would develop, so it was deeply mysterious on every conceivable level,” Jefferson continued. “With that being said I read Steve Hodel’s book, Black Dahlia Avenger, about his dad. Steve Hodel was an LAPD homicide detective, ironically enough, but I mostly delved into that mostly for character traits. His boyhood memories of his father and things that I could use as an actor to evoke this real human being. But the more I learned about George, the more things became oddly murkier and more mysterious and ambiguous. And to this day, I can’t give you a straight answer of did he do it or not despite this mountain of circumstantial evidence”
The actor was open about the fact that George was a “charismatic fellow and passionately devoted to art, philosophy and music.” Jefferson noted that George was a “child prodigy” and “could play very complicated classic pieces at a very young age.” He added: “I think he was a thrilling man to be around, a thrilling mind, and would hang out with prominent artists. Man Ray was a really good friend of his, so I think he was a really cultural catalyst and people respected him.” I Am The Night also stars Connie Nielsen, Golden Brooks, and more. The limited series airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on TNT.